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DTP Newsletter (June 2022) | Freedom

For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Galatians 5:13-14

What does it mean to be truly free? As we celebrate the Fourth of July next week, we thank God for the blessings of living in America. Yet at the same time, we are careful not to reduce—or equate—the typical American view of freedom (“I’m free to do what I want”) with the freedom that God offers us in Christ (“I’m free to do what God wants"—to live according to His good design by loving Him and loving others in a way that I was not free to do when I was enslaved to the flesh). To be free in Christ is to be free like Christ was free. Those who are in Christ—"from every tribe, language, people, and nation”—have been freed from the power of sin, are being freed from sin’s presence, and will one day be freed from sin completely (Rom 8:30; Rev 5:9). They have been set free from their former slavery to the flesh to love God and love others in a way that they were not free to do before. The freedom that Paul refers to in Galatians 5 is just as true for the Christian living in America as it is for the Christian living in Afghanistan.

Joni Earackson Tada, who is paralyzed from the shoulders down, gives us a beautiful picture of the type of freedom that we as Christians should most long for. Despite her physical struggles with pain, quadriplegia, and cancer, hear what she hopes for in heaven:

“Don’t be thinking that when I get to heaven that I am most looking forward to a new body, free of cancer or pain, or quadriplegia … don’t be thinking that when I get to be with Jesus, I’m going to relish in mostly jumping up and kicking and doing aerobics … No(!) … what I am most looking forward to is a new Heart. I want a glorified heart that is free of sin, free of selfishness, free of self-centeredness, free of fear of the future, free, free, free ... a heart that is no longer trapped by circumstances or resists God or looks for an escape or tries to justify itself when it is wronged. When I get to heaven, that will be glory for me.” [1]

Where do you need God to set you free? What freedom do you cherish most? Do you want to be free like Jesus was free—free from the tyranny of self, free from the bondage of sin, free to love and forgive even your vilest enemy? As we celebrate our country and those who sacrificed their lives for it, may we remember to worship the Triune God who offered Himself as a sacrifice in our place so that we might be set truly and eternally free.

"For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore,

and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery." Galatians 5:1

FAMILY UPDATE. We have reached the end of our seminary journey! Wow! Our whole family was heartily involved in our life here at Southern. We still make the bike ride there, wear the shirts, and go to the pool. What a gift this season has been, to be among so many believers running hard after the Lord! We have all learned so much, and our family benefits greatly from all Keith has learned. He is our spiritual example, guide, and nurturer. It is amazing to see him live like Christ, laying down his life for his family, and washing us in the water of the Word (Eph 5:25-28).

I (Shelley) took the boys to our last chapel meeting as a seminary family to see Keith receive an award from his peers. He was recognized for God’s work of evangelism through him.

It was wonderful to participate in Keith’s graduation … especially with Keith’s parents here. In God’s great wisdom, he gives us ceremonies to mark his work in our hearts and give us occasion to reflect on his work in our lives—a reason for deep praise! We had a great time celebrating together.

VISION TRIP. Shelley and I have delayed our vision trip (originally scheduled for August) to October for several reasons. First, we are waiting for medical clearance from the Company to determine if our desired location is an option. Second, we would be able to meet our potential new teammates, who will have just arrived. Third, the cost of the trip goes down considerably in the fall. If you’d like to financially support us for this trip, you can do so here (under "Project," select "Vision Trip to W. Africa").

CHURCH. Give thanks to God for our church families! He has established his love and care and instruction through these dear saints we see every week. We are constantly sharpened, encouraged, challenged, and loved by our church home, Clifton Baptist Church, here in Louisville. We have had three close families move away in the last two months, which has been difficult, but we rejoice in God’s work in their lives.

This summer sees the end of the Missions Cohort and the Pastoral Internship. God used both of these groups to grow us immensely, and we are so grateful to Him for all we have learned and enjoyed. The cohort brought many challenging topics and meaningful discussions that will truly equip us for the seasons ahead. The internship brought deeper understanding of the inner workings of a healthy church and how we can all joyfully give of ourselves for the building up of others and the kingdom. Keith enjoyed another opportunity to preach from Revelation on the joy we will experience when, if believers, we will finally get to be in God’s presence and see his face! You can read the sermon here.

It takes much prayer, preparation, patience, and love to lead a church. Would you take a few minutes to pass along a sincere, specific sentiment of gratitude to your church elders?

FUTURE. Shelley and I will be going to our interview conference with the Company July 6 – 9 in Richmond, Virginia. Our hope is to begin official training in January 2023 and potentially deploy in March. We continue to hold these plans with open hands, trusting God’s sovereignty and goodness. Here is our temporary schedule: Job match - August 18 | Trustee approval - September 13 or October 11 | Appointment - November 10-14 (Augusta, GA) | Training – January 23 – March 13 (Richmond, VA)

Between now and then, we’ll be learning language, studying West African religions, divesting our household, and preparing to move.

Security note: Some of this is intentionally vague for security purposes. We have been asked to be very careful with all electronic communication. We are not going to a closed-access country. However, we will be connected to people who are. For their protection and to maintain a gospel witness in such countries, please do not share or post a connection between our names and the Company’s.


  1. Please pray for final clearance and approval from our mission’s agency.

  2. Please pray for patience and hearts of gratitude in all circumstances, especially when plans change (1 Thes 5:18).

  3. Please pray that our children would turn from their sin and trust Christ as Savior and Lord.

  4. Please pray for the people we’ve spoken to who don’t know Christ, that God would draw them to Himself.

  5. Praise God for an older gentleman who confessed that he was a sinner and began walking with Christ on Sunday after church.

For His glory,

Graduation (above). Thanks to my friend, pastor, and former professor, Jeremy Pierre, for this shot!

Recommended Resources

  1. Must Read. The Trellis and the Vine: Colin Marshall, Tony Payne In the words of Mark Dever, "This is the best book I've read on the nature of church ministry." This is a must-read for anyone in Christian leadership. You can read my summary of this work here: "The Trellis and the Vine"

  2. Autobiography. The Autobiography of John Paton You can listen to John Piper’s synopsis of this work and Paton’s life here.

  3. Theology of Patriotism. American Exceptionalism and Civil Religion: Reassessing the History of an Idea | by John Wilsey What is the relationship between a Christian and their country? In this work, Wilsey contrasts closed exceptionalism with open exceptionalism.

  4. Children’s. Little Pilgrim's Big Journey | John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress Fully Illustrated & Adapted for Kids This is one of our favorite children’s books ever.

  5. Biography. 12 Faithful Women: Portraits of Steadfast Endurance These synopses of remarkable women in history detail God’s work in their lives and encouraged me to trust Him with every aspect of my life.

  6. Theology of Death. Remember Death: The Surprising Path to Living Hope | by Matthew McCulloughI want to show from the Bible the illuminating power of death-awareness for the lives we’re living now … When God teaches us to number our days, he protects us from prideful self-deception and enables us to live with genuine, realistic gladness.” 21

  7. Practical. Budgeting for a Healthy Church: Aligning Finances with Biblical Priorities | by Jamie Dunlop “Our budget reflects our priorities”

  8. Video. Foolishness: Skate Bible "I watched this video and was stirred by the stories of the transforming power of Christ. It deserves to be widely distributed and viewed." Alistair Begg

Photos and Previous Newsletter


We are in Louisville by the grace of God and the support of His people. We are overwhelmed and humbled by those who have allowed us to be here. If you would like to consider partnering with us on this journey, simply click on the following link: MEI Support Page


[1] Revive Our Hearts, True Woman ’14: Joni Eareckson Tada—A Different Kind of Freedom, 2014,


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